If you’re thinking about changing industries, you’re not alone: the average Australian will have 17 jobs across 5 careers in their lifetime. When you switch industries or careers, it can be challenging to balance your previous experience with your future ambitions, and you’ll have to be able to translate your skills if you want to land yourself that new role and succeed in your new industry.

Fortunately, most of us have transferable skills, and they’re incredibly valuable when going through a career change or moving industries. These are the types of skills that all employers are looking for, and they could just be the magic bullet you need to score a dream job in a new sector – so it pays to highlight them on any job application.

To help you nail your key selling points on your resume and cover letter, we’ve collated a transferable skills list you can use to impress prospective employers.

Communication skills

Being able to communicate effectively is one the most important skills a person can possess in their professional and personal lives. Every role today requires communication skills in some form, and promotions and professional success are virtually impossible without them. Not only do good communication abilities enable you to get your message across, but it also teaches you to listen to others and be a better team-player. Key communication skills include:

  • Listening to others empathetically, and considering their message before responding
  • Being able to write clearly, succinctly and in a professional manner
  • Being able to clearly express ideas and negotiate in face-to-face settings
  • Problem-solving skills

Consciously or not, most of us spend a lot of time solving problems ranging from innocuous concerns like where to get our morning coffee right through to how to spend the annual business budget. Everyone from the junior customer service representative to the CEO faces problems that need solving, so it’s all about being able to highlight examples of when you’ve used your problem-solving abilities to find a solution to an issue. This could include:

  • Identifying and/or implementing new processes
  • Solving an issue for a customer or client
  • Identifying new tools or technologies to improve a process
  • Analysing issues or threats and identifying ways to mitigate risk
  • Organisational skills

Effective organisational skills are sought-after by employers because they demonstrate that you can complete work efficiently, even when under pressure. A major component of organisational skills is prioritisation – this is a juggling act that even some of the most seasoned professionals haven’t entirely mastered. Being well-organised and able to handle conflicting priorities is highly regarded across most industries. Organisational skills include:

  • Time management
  • Prioritisation and planning
  • Efficiency
  • Research and analysis
  • Administrative skills
  • Leadership skills

Having managerial experience doesn’t necessarily mean you have solid leadership skills. Good leaders’ actions inspire others to think more, learn more, do more, and become more – in other words, they go above and beyond the role of “telling people what to do” to lead others to success. True leaders are highly sought after for management roles in every industry because they help to:

  • Inspire and motivate teams
  • Set goals and monitor performance
  • Provide mentoring
  • Create succession plans
  • Build and strengthen teams

With these four sets of core transferable skills highlighted on your resume, you’ll be well on your way to securing a new job in virtually any industry.

How to showcase your transferable skills

Your transferable skills will be your biggest selling point when you’re switching industries, so it’s essential to be clear and confident on what you bring to the table. If you’re looking to make the leap, here’s how to identify your transferable skills and use these to secure your next role.

List your skills

Whether it’s writing your resume or in an interview, your skills help sell you as a candidate to a prospective employer. Traditionally, many candidates like to focus on technical skills, like proficiency in a certain software, or industry expertise, however these won’t be as helpful if you’re moving professions.

Start by brainstorming all the skills you use in your day-to-day role, and highlight the ones that you think are your strongest assets.

Focus on how, not what

If you’re switching industries, it can feel like you need to discard key achievements from your previous roles. However, these can still be used in the recruitment process – it’s all about how you repackage them for your future employer.

When you look at the major highlights of your career, think beyond the ‘what’ of your success and analyse how you got there:

  • What steps did you take to ensure success?
  • How did you solve problems that arose along the way?
  • How did you support and motivate your team or external stakeholders?
  • How did you define your strategy and your KPIs?

Going into your interview, focus more on the skills that got you to your achievement rather than the achievement itself – this will show your future employer that you have the right tools in your arsenal to succeed in your new position.

Look at job descriptions for your future industry

One of the best ways to prepare for an industry career switch is to look at what your future job description could look like, and see how your skillset stacks up. Look on websites like Indeed and Seek for the types of positions you’re looking for, then take a look at the types of profiles these roles are recruiting for in terms of competencies and skills.

After this, you’ll have a clear idea of what employers are looking for in their ideal employee, and you can use this to do an analysis of how your skills can translate – and which areas you might need to upskill on.

Reports like the 2020 Salary Benchmark Guide can also give an insight into what roles and skills are growing in demand across various industries, which is handy if you want to figure out how you can remain competitive in your future job market.

Remember it’s about attitude and mindset

Above all, employers want to see your passion and enthusiasm for the role, as well as your potential. Skills can be taught, after all, but a candidate that has the right mindset and is a good cultural fit is more challenging to find.

Although you might be lacking in hands-on experience, it’s important to show an employer that you understand the industry you’re getting into, and that you’re willing to learn and adapt. Look into market trends and insights, and do your research into an employer’s mission statement and brand values before an interview. Use your cover letter, resume, and interview all as opportunities to demonstrate why your skills set you apart from the competition - the more confident you are in your own skills and what you bring to the table, the more confident an employer will be in your potential to make the switch into a new industry.

Talk to a recruiter

If you’re switching industries, career advice is essential – and one of the best resources at your disposal is a recruiter. Recruiters can help you to identify opportunities that align with your career goals, and can give you tips on how to prepare yourself for interviews to have the best shot at success. Your recruiter can also provide you with industry insights to help you better understand employee expectations, and if you build a strong relationship with your recruiter, they could put you forward for roles that are yet to be listed.

Ready to make that exciting career change? Speak to a Michael Page consultant today.


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